22 juillet 2020 | International, Aérospatial

Lockheed Martin May Go Shopping if Defense Budgets Fall Next Year

July 21, 2020 | By John A. Tirpak

If defense spending goes down in the coming year—expected because of large COVID-19 bailout packages—it could be an opportunity for Lockheed Martin, company President and Chief Executive Officer James D. Taiclet said July 21.

In a second-quarter results call with investors and financial reporters, Taiclet—in his first such call after succeeding Marillyn A. Hewson in the job—said the company isn't betting on defense budgets to go up or down. But Lockheed is sitting on so much cash—nearly $8 billion—it could go shopping for other companies in distress if budgets fall, he said.

“If there is a downturn, we're going to look for silver linings that may be there,” Taiclet said. Given the company's strong backlog and balance sheet, “there could be opportunities for us to act in a period where asset prices are depressed, for things we may want to bring into the company.” Acquisition targets “we really wanted ... might be even more available at attractive prices.” He did not discuss large possible acquisition interests, and only broadly mentioned looking at small companies able to build Lockheed's vertical integration in some technology areas.

Taiclet declined to speculate on whether budgets will rise or fall. “We're just getting the company ready for either scenario, frankly,” he said. “If it's stable or slightly rising, ... we know how to handle that. But if it's declining, we're planning for that, too.”

In case of a downturn, he's asked business area managers to do “a ‘Red Team' kind of exercise ... We would offer our customers ... ‘this is what we think you should do with our products and programs for extending'” the life of existing platforms.

With a $150 billion backlog in hand, though—a new company “high water mark,” Taiclet said—“it's going to be two to three years” before any defense budget cuts “actually go into the defense industrial base production lines, so we have time to work with the customer ... They can have their contingency plan and we're behind them 100 percent.”

Taiclet said international customers may also see budget declines, but doesn't expect Lockheed to be hit hard by that. While some requests for proposals are “moving to the right,” the planned in-service dates of prospective customers are not, he noted.

Taiclet and Kenneth R. Possenriede, vice president and chief financial officer, said the company expects 90 total new F-16 orders from Taiwan and another country; C-130s for Indonesia; Aegis systems for Japan; and MH-60R helicopters for India, as well as increasing orders for missile defense systems.

They also said the chief competitors to the U.S. are spending lavishly on defense systems and the threat is not diminishing, despite COVID. China is “aggressive and ... aspirational,” Taiclet said, while Russia is “back in the game,” making strategic investments in long-range systems to make up for its diminished ground forces.

Production of the F-35, Lockheed's marquee aeronautics program, will likely be 40 percent for foreign users in the coming years, Possenriede said. Of the aeronautics division's $9 billion in orders, $7 billion is accounted for by the F-35, with a backlog of 411 airplanes.

Taiclet noted that Lockhed has hired 9,000 new employees since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and is seeking to hire 3,000 more in this calendar year.

https://www.airforcemag.com/lockheed-martin-may-go-shopping-if-defense-budgets-fall-next-year

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  • Is the US Navy winning the war on maintenance delays?

    22 septembre 2020 | International, Naval

    Is the US Navy winning the war on maintenance delays?

    David B. Larter WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy, beset by maintenance delays, is making progress on getting its ships out of the shipyards on time, fleet officials say. Over the past three years, the Navy is on track to more than double the percentage of ships getting out of maintenance on time, key to the service's efforts to make deployments more sustainable for its ships and sailors, Capt. Dave Wroe, U.S. Fleet Forces Command's deputy fleet readiness officer told Defense News in an email. “On-time ship maintenance availability completion rates in private shipyards improved from 24% in FY18 to 37% in FY19,” Wroe said. “Current performance trends in FY20 are projected to be 65%.” The improvement is a sign that the Navy may be turning the corner on a fight to restore readiness from its nadir in the early part of the last decade, when the Navy was running ragged filling unsustainable requirements for forces around the globe. Getting ships through their maintenance cycles on time is the linchpin of what the Navy calls its “optimized fleet response plan,” which is the system through which the Navy generates deployable ships that are maintained, manned and trained. Late last year and again in January, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday told audiences that repeated delays in the shipyards was undermining the Navy's Optimized Fleet Response Plan, and turning that around was vital. “We are getting 35 to 40 percent of our ships out of maintenance on time: that's unacceptable,” Gilday said at the USNI Defense Forum in December. “I can't sustain the fleet I have with that kind of track record.” A recent Government Accountability Office report found that between 2015 and 2019, only 25 percent of the Navy's maintenance periods for ships and submarines. Improvements Getting out of that hole has been difficult for a number of reasons: High operational demand for Navy forces makes planning maintenance difficult, and inevitably when the ships go into maintenance after years of hard use, workers discover more work that needs to be done, creating delays. And those delays make executing OFRP difficult, Wroe said. “OFRP provides the construct to best assess and optimize readiness production — down to a unit level — taking into account all the various competing factors to produced Navy readiness,” Wroe said. “Bottom line: OFRP helps mitigate fundamental points of friction, such as shipyard capacity and manning gaps at sea — but in itself doesn't solve key degraders like depot level maintenance delays and extensions.” But some key factors in the delays have been identified and the Navy is working to mitigate them, Fleet Forces Commander Adm. Chris Grady said this week at this week's Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium. One area that has a tendency to drive delays is when workers discover things that need to be fixed, the fix may not cost much but the adjustment must go through an approval process that slows everything down. Those kinds of changes add up to about 70 percent of the so-called “growth work.” Part of it is anticipating and building in ways to deal with growth work into every maintenance period, and the other part is making it easier to address small changes to the scope of the work, Grady said. “When we began this initiative, cycle time for the small value changes averaged about 30 days,” he said “We're now at six and aim to bring it down further to only two days.” Other things that have helped the problem has been bundling maintenance periods for ships, meaning that contractors bid on multiple ships to fix, and can plan hiring further out, Grady said. Additionally, improving base access for contractors has helped, as well. “Last year, we averaged 110 days delayed per ship in private avails,” Grady said, using the short-hand term for “maintenance availability.” “Things much better this year — even with COVID-19,” he continued. “We go from about one-third avails finishing on-time to two-thirds. That is great. But, again, each delay has real impact on our readiness, and we need to keep working together to do better.” What happened? Because the U.S. Navy is set up to meet standing presence requirements and missions around the world, it must cycle its ships through a system of tiered readiness. That means ships go on deployment fully manned, trained and equipped. Then the ships come home, and after a period of sustained readiness where the ship can be redeployed, it goes into a reduced readiness status while undergoing maintenance. Following maintenance, the ship and crew goes into a training cycle for another deployment as an individual unit, then as a group, then returns to deployment. The whole cycle takes 36 months: Rinse and repeat. OFRP was designed in the 2013-2014 time-frame when the Navy was deploying well beyond its means, with carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups going out for nine-to-10 months at a time. The excess use wore hard on the ships and sailors who manned them and put more wear on the hulls than they were designed to sustain. That meant that when ships went in for maintenance they were more broken than they were supposed to be, and funding to fix them was hampered by spending cuts. For nuclear ships — submarines and aircraft carriers — the funding cuts were a double whammy of work stoppages and furloughs that contributed to a wave of retirements in the yards, meaning the public yards were understaffed and had to hire and train new workers. Work took longer, throwing a wrench into an already complicated system of generating readiness. All that added up to significant delays in getting ships through their maintenance cycles and contributed to astonishing delays in attack submarine maintenance especially. What OFRP was meant to do was create a system whereby the Navy could meet combatant commander demands but not break the system. That meant that the Navy would generate as much readiness as it possibly could but that the demand would have to be limited to what the Navy could reasonably maintain, man, train and equip. But getting to that system has been immensely difficult because of the deep hole the Navy dug meeting requirements that well outstripped funding and supply. For example, there was a two year period when the service was forced to supply two carrier strike groups to the Arabian Gulf at all times, a requirement only canceled when automatic across-the-board spending cuts in 2013 made it impossible for the Navy to fund the two-carrier requirement. Adding to the difficulty: some of OFRP's founding requirements were nigh impossible to pull off. One was that the all the ships in group would go into and come out of their maintenance availabilities on time and together. Another was that a group would go into the first phase of their training, the so-called basic phase right after coming out of maintenance, fully manned. Both have been immensely difficult to pull off. But Fleet Forces, headed then by OFRP architect Adm. Phil Davidson, was given ample warning that those assumptions would be difficult to achieve. Then-NAVSEA head Vice Adm. William Hilarides told USNI News in January 2015 that getting ships to come out of the yards simultaneously would be hard. “The challenge to me is, let's say you want four destroyers in a battle group, all to come out at the same time in one port? That's a real challenge,” Hilarides told USNI News. The current head of NAVSEA, who at the time was in charge of the Regional Maintenance Center enterprise, backed up his boss to USNI News, saying it would be particularly challenging in places with less infrastructure. “Your big rub there is, the challenge of OFRP is ... all those ships [in a carrier strike group], they go through maintenance together, they go through training together and they deploy together,” said then-Rear Adm. William Galinis. "So, what our challenge is, is to be able to take all that work from all those ships and try to schedule it for roughly about the same time, and to get all that work done on time. So that's our challenge. “Now, in a port like Norfolk or San Diego, we have big shipyards, a lot of people, a lot of ships. You can kind of absorb that type of workload. When you go to Mayport, they've got like 10 ships down there [and typically cannot work on more than one or two destroyers at a time.],” he told USNI. Galinis said that Fleet Forces would have to be responsive to the shipyards because at least that way they could plan for delays. “They know if they give us all this work at one time, it's going to go long anyway,” he told USNI. “So they'd rather be able to plan that and at least know when they're getting the ship back, as opposed to, ‘nope, we're not going to talk to you, you've got to go do it,' and then the ships go long because we don't have enough people to do the work.” Fleet Forces Command has been reviewing its assumptions this year and is preparing to release a revised OFRP instruction, but the core is likely to remain the same. In any case, Wroe said in the email, it was always going to take a long time to dig out of the hole the Navy found itself in when OFRP was implemented fully in 2015. “It was clear at the inception of OFRP, and remains clear today, that it will take the entire 2015-2025 period to recover readiness and establish stable readiness production,” Wroe said. “That makes sense when readiness production is planned over 9-years and large blocks of time have already been scheduled for depot maintenance periods.” Ultimately, if the process of OFRP is funded correctly and ships can get out of maintenance on time, it's a sound way of moving forward, Fleet Forces Commander Grady told the audience this week. “My bottom line here is that, as a process, OFRP works,” he said. “If we are looking where to improve upon it, each of these studies came to the same conclusion: the biggest inhibitor to fleet readiness is maintenance and modernization performance in the shipyards. We simply must get better, and I know you share my concern.” https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/09/19/is-the-us-navy-winning-the-war-on-maintenance/

  • Refining the Defense Department’s cyberwarrior ‘carrier’

    10 septembre 2018 | International, C4ISR

    Refining the Defense Department’s cyberwarrior ‘carrier’

    By: Mark Pomerleau The Department of Defense cyber community knows it has a critical need for a centralized platform for cyberwarriors, so the joint community is collaborating to ensure the final system has everything everyone needs. The Unified Platform, as it's known, will serve as the aircraft carrier, airplane or tank, so to speak, from which cyberwarriors plan and launch attacks. “We're working with Cyber Command to make sure we've got the requirement right for Unified Platform,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, commander of Army Cyber Command, said during a keynote presentation at TechNet Augusta in August. He said there was a meeting in August to define what the Unified Platform is and what it is not as to develop it appropriately. “Where I think we've got to ensure is we don't make this so large that it just becomes unsustainable ... this very bloated program,” he told Fifth Domain in an interview during the same conference. There was some initial confusion with the Unified Platform, as it was conflated with the Military Cyber Operations Platform, Fogarty said. MCOP has been described in the past as the sum total of portfolios and capabilities Cyber Command's Capabilities Development Group manages with MCOP being CDG's top project. Others have described MCOP as an environment that will include the Unified Platform along with other services like analytics. In the most recent budget request, DoD asked for $52.4 million in fiscal 2019 under “Joint Common Services,” to include continued development of MCOP. Fogarty noted that while MCOP was the umbrella and the Unified Platform was one component underneath, sometimes the totality of MCOP was miscast as the Unified Platform, despite the Unified Platform being a more discrete piece of that. Fogarty added that there is a good understanding of what the essential elements of the Unified Platform are outside of what the services have been directed to do, noting there have been some good sessions with U.S. Cyber Command recently, who is the principal requirement owner. While the Air Force is serving as the executive agent for the program, Cyber Command's acquisition executive, speaking Sept. 6 at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, said the full transition of the program to the Air Force won't occur until fiscal 2019. The official, Stephen Schanberger, said that while Cyber Command as the requirements owner for the program has a lot of influence to drive the first few deliverables and how they are implemented, each service cyber component will have their say in the program. Full article: https://www.fifthdomain.com/dod/cybercom/2018/09/07/refining-the-defense-departments-cyberwarrior-carrier/

  • ATHENA Successfully Defends Drone Threat

    7 novembre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    ATHENA Successfully Defends Drone Threat

    FORT SILL, Okla., Nov. 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) recently demonstrated their laser weapon system for the U.S. Air Force at a government test range at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where the system successfully engaged and shot down multiple fixed wing and rotary drones. The Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) operated in a fully-netted engagement environment with a government command and control (C2) system and radar sensor. The radar track was provided to airmen who operated ATHENA via cues from the C2, then ATHENA's beam director slewed, acquired, tracked and defeated the drone with a high-energy laser. Validating this type of full kill-chain performance has been a priority of the U.S. Air Force and other branches of the Department of Defense, and it remains a requirement for laser weapons to be effective against unmanned aerial systems (UAS) on the battlefield. "We've watched in recent news this type of laser weapon solution is essential for deterring unmanned vehicle type threats, so it's an exciting time for us to watch airmen compete Lockheed Martin's critical technology. ATHENA has evolved to ensure integration and agility are key and it remains an affordable capability for the warfighter," said Sarah Reeves, vice president of Missile Defense Programs for Lockheed Martin. The ATHENA system was developed by Lockheed Martin to integrate seamlessly and provide a cost-effective, complementary anti-drone capability with the network of systems the warfighter is already using. ATHENA was operated by USAF personnel during this demonstration, and it was able to destroy multiple drones in engagements representative of what is being encountered by U.S. armed forces today. The ATHENA high-energy laser system is transportable and therefore enables the Air Force to emplace it anywhere they need to defend bases and high-value assets. For additional information, visit our website: www.lockheedmartin.com/DE About Lockheed Martin Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 105,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. SOURCE Lockheed Martin https://news.lockheedmartin.com/2019-11-07-ATHENA-Successfully-Defends-Drone-Threat

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